Aunt Afifa: "We felt God’s blessings falling upon us with the presence of Caritas in our lives."
“Years have passed by in a blink of an eye," says Aunt Afifa. “And today we find ourselves, my sister and I, alone. After our other sister passed away, we have nothing left in this world except for our niece, who works and lives in Beirut, and her brother Joseph, who has been living with us since his mother passed away seven years ago. He needs our constant care because he is with special needs”.
Aunt Afifa and her younger sister are now over 80 years old. "We are very afraid to socialize with people and we don’t dare to get out of the house anymore, because we are afraid of being infected with COVID-19," says Aunt Afifa, who lives in the town of Hasbaya, in Matn.
The sisters’ case has been the same for more than a year. "It is true that our niece sends us some money because we take care of her brother, but this modest amount is not enough to cover the expenses. Yet the truth is that we never felt alone and destitute," continues Aunt Afifa, "Caritas family embraced us and haven’t left us behind and this for more than ten years now. Antoinette (Caritas’ social assistant) has become a member of our family.”
Fatme is pregnant in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, jobless and unable to register the children in a primary school. They were barely surviving and providing day-to-day necessity without any income.
“She always finds a way to help us and secure all the food, medicines and cleaning tools we need. We love her so much and we love when she comes to visit us from time to time. We love to sit with her and talk to her; this way we’re able to forget our loneliness.”
“I always ask her to keep in touch and not be gone for too long because her presence is the most beautiful gift for us and her friendship is very appreciated and invaluable."
Aunt Afifa and her sister experienced the bitterness of displacement and alienation in her country, after being evicted from their home in Ain Al-Rummana during the war, returning (so they returned back)to their hometown, Hasbaya.
“The scenes of displacement from our house are still in front of my eyes, as if they happened yesterday,” says aunt Afifa, “This ‘historical’ day will forever be engraved in my memory. They kicked us out like we were thieves. We left everything behind us and walked away.”
“We didn’t know where to go and to whom to come to. We lived through oppression, humiliation and poverty at the same time. But God did not leave us alone.”
“We walked a lot before we met a 30-year-old benefactor, who felt bad for us, and insisted on taking us with him, in his car, to the village. We came to this humble house, the family home, which is made of two rooms, a small kitchen, a bathroom, and in front of it a ‘terrace’.
“It is true that the home’s condition was deplorable and it needs restauration and maintenance, but at least he gave us a ceiling to protect us, and thanks to Caritas, parish and loving neighbors, we’re great."
Despite her age, Aunt Afifa is good at taking care of her home and its cleanliness, which the visitor notices from the moment he enters the house. "Cleanliness is next to godliness’’ repeats Aunt Afifa to anyone who asks her about the secret of her work.
She always tries to rely on herself and refuses to beg anyone. "Thank God we are fine and safe, with the presence of people like Antoinette and all the team of Caritas’ in our lives. We feel God's blessings falling upon us, and all those who think of us and surround us with their infinite love. Love alone can do miracles and spread happiness everywhere."
We can’t describe to you how much Aunt Afifa, her sister and Zouzou are overloaded with happiness when Caritas youth visits them during the holidays, prepare the table for them and share dinner with them. Their house is filled with the joy during the holiday season, especially with all the chants, hymns and holiday songs.
Aunt Afifa does not stop praising Caritas and their great virtue with her, her sister and nephew, "No matter how much we thank this association, we can hardly thank them enough for their work”
“I don't know what would have happened to us if Caritas didn’t exist. Even when we need medicine for Zouzou and we don't find it in the pharmacy, I find them coming on their own and providing us with everything we need, even without us asking them to. They are God’s angels on earth.”